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Blargsman Blog

Tropico 3... Land of Fine Tobacco, Exotic Women, and Fickle Inhabitants!

T3 Screenshot

Show the lands of opportunity and socialism that Castro wasn't the only bad boy in the Caribbean!


Seeing as how I have never experienced the glory of the first two Tropicos (both of which only released on the PC) I did not know what to expect in playing this demo. And while the first two entries were mildly successful and receive a cult-following, both games were developed by different publishers... and this game is no different! So I figured at that point that this would be one of the most unbias previews I've ever written.

Streamlined Controls / Interface

Thinking about how Tropico 3, and the previous entries, originally relied solely on a mouse and keyboard to micromanage your own personal paradise, it surprises me that Kalypso was able to translate the controls fairly well onto a gamepad. The interface is clean and easy-to-use, the radial menu for edicts and construction are easy to navigate through, the D-pad provides for the micromanagement of buildings, and the right trigger provides the fast-track to all of the powers at El Presidente's disposal.

Addicting Gameplay

It's odd to think about deriving fun from pleasing insignificant virtual people, but the idea of myself actually running a successful island economy and keeping discontent rebels from eliminating me holds something special that no other game on the 360 has yet to make me feel. Keeping up with current events of the 1950s and the Cold War climate helps string players along and provide possible consequences to actions and lead to exhilarating events (ever experience a US trade company exec killing himself after a sudden bankruptcy, leaving the US to discover his and your illegal dealings?).

Quirky Humour / Atmosphere

From the radio DJ to the off-beat scenarios presented in the campaign, Tropico 3 isn't short of quirky (and sometimes morbid) humour. The game obviously never takes itself seriously, I mean... look at the front cover, so all-in-all it is simply fun to take in all that the game has to offer with its satirical perspective on the Cold War in the tropics.

Just... Don't Zoom In

While the game can look decent from afar, the 360 was clearly not Kalypso's lead platform. As you zoom in, you'll notice quickly that the textures become blurrier and the inhabitants of Tropico become reduced to rigid, square-fisted PLAYMOBIL people. It's not as bad as I'm making it out to be... but it won't be going up against Halo Wars or anything for "Best Looking Strategy Game".

Tough Crowd

The difficulty of pleasing your subjects can be quite stressful. Most often, whatever mildly pleases the church (religion) outrages the educated (intellectuals), a successful church does nothing without a $20,000 cathedral and a papal visit, an army base never seems to satisfy the complaints of poor troop bunking, and never can I appease the United States with a supportive capitalist stance and wealthy economy. Though the game doesn't demand that you keep everyone in Tropico happy, it is best pursue that goal to reap the most out of your experience.

The demo is a meaty playthrough of the elements provided in Tropico 3. Though some construction elements, edicts, and features are obviously missing, the game provides a wonderful experience for any 360 owners looking for a SimCity, socio-economic strategy game with. Coming out of nowhere on my game-dar, this is definitely going to have a place in my game collection come February.

Mass-ive Changes to Mass Effect 2

Well, it's not that "massive", but it certainly is a change... for better I cannot say.

I certainly believe the original cover looked a tad more epic and engaging. This new cover looks as though BioWare tried very hard in squeezing the three characters very tightly into what space was available on the box.

Well, at least I'm in it for the game and not showcasing the box.

ME2 ME2 Original

Xbox Live Update Preview Anyone?

Hey ladies and nerds, it looks as though Microsoft is accepting sign-ups for the upcoming Xbox Live Update Preview. You know, that little update that will come with Facebook, Last.fm, and Twitter applications?

Here's the link: Xbox Live Update Preview

If you haven't done one of these bad boys before, all you need is your gamertag, as well as Xbox serial and console ID... the survey itself asks about your entertainment setup.

If you're interested in the update, like myself, good luck!

How Dare You Xbox!

RRoD

Well, my extinct 20GB Xbox 360 Pro decided to die on me the other day. Poor bastard had the case of the Red Ring!

I really have to hand it to the console, though. It's been through a lot of crap with me moving it from house to house to play with friends or using it as an ottoman on the floor as I play it.

But still... after all the sermons and evangelistic nonsense that I have preached about how the RRoD rates were blown out of proportion, I had to be a victim. Me! Damn you gods of the gaming world, why smite me!?

You would think seeing as how I have had my Xbox for so long and am very pissed on how it decided to die on me that I would throw my money into the Nintendo Wii or the Sony PlayStation 3 (both of which I have).

So what do I go and do after my piece of turd Xbox 360 dies on me!?

I buy another one! A 120GB Elite this time around, as purchasing the 60GB Pro or Arcade bundles seems like a total waste of time and money (besides, I'm quite partial to the black matte finish).

Thank you Microsoft for your crap product that I can't seem to live without! No sarcasm either!

GameSpot Unions Not Up to Par

Okay GameSpot, what's the big deal with the archaic theme that the GameSpot Union section dons?

Is it really so hard torefresh the code for that area of the site? It looks ridiculous and makes me personally feel like you guys just don't care about the gamer unions.

I am making a sad face at this point, however I have a slight touch of anger at the fact that you've had the new layout for quite a while now and the unions area seems to be the only area on the site that seems most backwards and least cared for.

Most of this rant stems from my OCD of consistency and visual aesthetics... but regardless, it bugs. Update yourselves, guys!

BioWare Knows How to Bring It!

[video=6230520]

Though Subject Zero looks as though she would tear my little nerd coinpurse from between my legs and feed it to mejust from trying to strike up a conversation with her, I can't help but feel strangely attracted to her badass-ness.

At this point, Mass Effect 2 is a must-play game for me. There is nothing that seems to be missing from the equation for this title to become my favorite game of all-time.

  • A badass storyline of epic proportions.
  • More badass worlds.
  • Badass weapon variety.
  • New badass characters.
  • And a new enhanced game engine.... that is looks pretty badass!

"How unnecessary! You don't need to use that word at all! You're just a big potty mouth!"

Oh yeah? Well you just hush yourself! I won't apologize for my excessive use of the term "badass", it must be used. An amplifier is needed to express my excitement for this fine product.

I feel that BioWare is making me so pumped for ME2, that I'm not interested in any other game until I've played this game twenty-three times through. BioWare really knows how to get me excited for their games. It may just be that I'm a total BioWare fanboy, but all of their games have been "A+" in my book.

As I continue to type this blarg out, I now realize that I don't know where I'm going with this. In fact, I should probably just stop here. This was just a by-product of seeing this exciting footage and really wanting to play Mass Effect 2.

Now pardon me as I pop-in my copy of Mass Effect.

Not Hip Enough for an iPod?

That's fine. I can totally relate!

I remember clearly the first time I decided to ditch my 6-inch Panasonic CD player that ate 2-AA batteries every month for those hip, new mp3 players that would allow me to play more than 12 songs (20 if I burned the disc) and save me butt-loads from single-handedly supporting Energizer.

Like most teenagers starved for the latest and greatest in consumer electronics, I sought out an Apple iPod as my Panasonic's replacement. When I first held it, I was like: "Damn, this is nice!" Glossy screen, touch-sensitive scroll wheel, and a reflective back-end screamed to me "high-class"... at the time. Now when I look back at my ol' 60GB Apple iPod, and how it was covered with scuffs and fingerprints on both the glossy surface and reflective back, I think: "What was I thinking getting this object that seems suited to staying at-home indoors and not to be used without case protection?"

Black iPod

It only looked this good for about the first 10 minutes of its life.

Boy, was it a pain in the ass to keep that thing from scratching up. It's not like I tried to drive the value of the damn thing down, either. I'd just have it sitting in my pocket or have it in my hands while I listen to it... you know, like a normal person. I don't see why I'd have to pay an extra ~$30 to have a case or armband to keep my already $200 mp3 player from looking like crap.

And that's what it is... a $200 mp3 player! What's the difference between what the iPod offers over Sony's Walkman or Creative's ZEN players to warrant an additional $100? Sony's and Creative's players both offer an FM radio and the ability to add memory storage devices like SD cards to increase the amount of content on the players; Apple's iPod had, umm... iTunes compatibility? Yeah! And an FM radio... for about $20 more. Oh! And it could kill someone if I threw it at their temple!

Regardless, this is becoming more of a rant than I had intended it to be. The real highlight of my blarg is my discovery of Microsoft's Zune!

J and B Zune

Come on... all the "cool" kids are getting them!

Long story short, I ditched my now filthy 5th-generation Apple iPod for a sleek, new 2nd-generation Microsoft Zune. It wasn't a hard decision, really. My logic was simply this: Do I get an Apple iPod Touch that is basically a retarded iPhone, an iPhone that would cost me my left nut to move from Verizon to AT&T, or an iPod Nano worth two Microsoft Zunes?

Wow! Worth two Zunes, you say!? Only cost-wise, my friend. The 4GB Zune provides hours of musical nirvana for $50 (my price, anyway).

FM Radio Functionality

Tired of your song catalog? Then hit up the built-in FM tuner! There, you can listen to your favorite stations, fix your presets, and even tag songs to download them later.

Built-in Wi-fi

The wi-fi on the Zune showcases the wireless future we are headed to in the world of electronics. It allows the Zune to connect to both PC networks and other Zune players. This enables music to flow freely between your Zune and other Zune's and PC's music catalogs. Very useful if you just so happen to visit your friend's dorm and discover that he has that CD that you've been dying to listen to... forgot to remember your cable to connect your Zune to his laptop? Oops! But don't worry, you can now do it by joining his computer wirelessly! Yeah technology!

Tough, Portable Design

Unlike my iPod, the Zune features a scratch-resistant screen to prevent visible scratches, matte-finish faceplate (exclusive to black I believe) that eliminates the fingerprints and smudges, and is smaller than the dimensions of my index finger and thumb making the "loser" symbol... that has to mean it's good, right? It's truly liberating now that I don't have to equip my mp3 player with a camoflauged flak jacket and extra durable Huggies® Little Movers Diapers so as to not leave fingerprints or scuffs.

Zune Pass

For $14.99 a month, Zune owners can play over a million songs over the Zune marketplace for free, as well as download them to their hard drive or Zune to play them on-the-go! The pass also gives Zune users the ability to keep 10 of their favorite tracks for life every month. So long as the subscription is renewed monthly, the music industry is wide-open to the Zune owner to enjoy.

No EQ

I suppose it was established that to fit in wi-fi and enhance battery life, the equalizer was removed. While not so much a loss, some songs can sound... off. No, I'm sorry. They sound terrible! It would benefit Zune users to have decent headphones.

Zune Player & Zune Marketplace

I will say this, iTunes is certainly more refined and optimized than this steaming pile of coding. Microsoft will really need to get working on this aspect of their Zune plan if they want users to have to use the program. It is an eyesore in most cases, but it wouldn't be so bad if browsing the marketplace didn't move at a snail's pace. It doesn't help that iTunes also has a head-start against Zune in terms of content over the marketplace.

The Zune line-up is a great deal... really it is. For those that love sharing music (legally) and listening to their favorite songs on-the-go, Microsoft's Zune offers a simple, affordable mp3 players that gives music lovers everything they need and nothing they don't (besides the EQ)!

Getting WET is the Least of Their Worries...

WET Screenshot

Apparently, you'll be doing cool stuff like this throughout the game! Over... and over... and over again...



Getting repetitive and boring is what the developers at Artificial Mind and Movement should look out for with their new title WET. After much criticism from gamers about how poor the demo was, I decided to go ahead and try it out and see for myself.

The demo starts with players as Rubi (seemingly the star of WET), as she eavesdrops in on a mysterious exchange between two gangs. To everyone's surprise (not), one of the gangs shafts the other with Rubi going after the man responsible for the botched deal.

Very Stylish
There is just something about leaping through the air in slow-motion while dual-wielding pistols and taking out two armed men in suits that just screams awesome. With that said, WET has "awesome-ness" covered; whether it be running along buffet tables filled with glass pyramids whilst shooting or gutting an unfortunate thug prior to sliding towards him in dodging his fire or possibly even sprinting along walls to... I don't know, "scare" the enemy. Regardless, the moves in WET will certainly get one's testosterone going.


Jump, Shoot, Repeat
While it was fun to execute the first twenty baddies by jumping around and sliding utilizing both pistols and sword, the game wanted me to do it over, and over, and over again. The control scheme has it to where there's really nothing else the player can do besides shoot, slash, leap, and slide.

Kill THIS Many People to Proceed
Towards the end of the demo, the game forces players to pull off a certain combo multiplier in order to progress. For example, the game wanted me to achieve a multiplier of x3. Problem was that the game never gave me enough thugs to ignite a Triad Holocaust (which is the only way to reach that x3 multiplier). So there I was, eliminating wave after wave of suits to no avail. This, moreover, begins to wear-down the gameplay, which brings me back to my complaint over the repetitive gameplay mechanics.

Useless Mechanics
What is really the point in laying around whiskey bottles that refill your seemingly never deteriorating health bar? it's unnecessary. Especially the little cinematic of Rubi tossing the bottle up in the air and blowing it away.

Might Want to Put On Some Make-up, Babe
Like the guy I am, I have a soft spot for female protagonists. Before the demo, Rubi looked decent on stills and promotional materials, as well as everything else in the game. However, when the game is in motion everything looks very dated. The textures are fairly blotchy, certainly not acceptable to a current-gen game. The character models aren't very detailed. The shadows look like noise, not appealing in the least. Most of my complaints may stem from the filter the developers have used to make it appear to be some sort of grindhouse-like film filled with wanton, gratuitous violence and gore.

Playing through the demo once or twice, I can say that I hope this is indeed not a formal representation for the final release. While WET does play well with some novel gameplay ideas and artistic direction, the game as a whole is looking like nothing more than a rent or one-time playthrough that will likely fall under the radar of most gamers. Just to reinforce my claim, raise your hand if you or someone you know still plays John Woo's Stranglehold...